The Kagan standard: Words from 1995 on how high court nomination hearings should be changed

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Kagan in 1995 on high court confirmation process

Excerpts from Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan’s 1995 review of Stephen Carter’s book “A Confirmation Mess,” in which she called for a more meaningful vetting of high court prospects:

— “Open exploration of the nominee’s substantive views … enables senators and their constituents to engage in a focused discussion of constitutional values, to ascertain the values held by the nominee and to evaluate whether the nominee possesses the values that the Supreme Court most urgently requires.”

— “Judges are not partial in deciding cases because they have strong opinions, or previously have expressed strong opinions, on issues involved in those cases. … We do not yet, thankfully enough, consider either the possession or the expression of views on legal issues — even when strongly held and stated — to be a judicial disqualification.”

— “The Bork hearings presented to the public a serious discussion of the meaning of the Constitution, the role of the Court and the views of the nominee; that discussion at once educated the public and allowed it to determine whether the nominee would move the Court in the proper direction. Subsequent hearings have presented to the public a vapid and hollow charade.”

—”And what is worse even than the hearings themselves is a necessary condition of them: The evident belief of many senators that serious, substantive inquiry of nominees is usually not only inessential, but illegitimate.”

— “It is an embarrassment that the president and Senate do not always insist, as a threshold requirement, that a nominee’s previous accomplishments evidence an ability not merely to handle but to master the ‘craft’ aspects of being a judge.”

will not be displayed